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Overall Rating
3.52

Awesome: 26.87%
Worth A Look31.34%
Average: 19.4%
Pretty Bad: 11.94%
Total Crap: 10.45%

3 reviews, 49 user ratings


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Kiss of the Dragon
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Kiss and kick butt."
4 stars

It seems that martial arts movies are all the rage right now. Last week “Once Upon a Time in China” and “Once Upon a Time in China II” played during a retrospective for Tsui Hark, while his latest catastrophe “Time and Tide” opens coincidentally on the same day this week as the Jet Li vehicle “Kiss of the Dragon.” (Li, as it happens, was also “catapulted” to fame from the “China” flicks, of which he dropped out of after the first two because he didn’t get along with Hark.) Hollywood production or Chinese production makes no big deal or difference to me, but in the battle of the Asians, “Kiss of the Dragon” is by far the triumphant of the two movies.

Jet Li is Liu Jiuan, a government agent from China who has come to Paris to aide their police in the protection of an important (not to mention sleazy) figure. However, the French have their own plans with how to deal with the man they are protecting and attempt to frame Jiuan for the murder. Tactless and without discretion, the main French police official Richard (Tchéky Karyo) pursues Jiuan, who has the tape that will prove his innocence and reveal that it was Richard who was the murderer.

Unable to escape the stronghold that Richard possesses over the city (he also pimps out hookers), Jiuan must hide out of fear. But one of the hookers that hangs outside of the store that Jiuan is hiding in, Jessica (Bridget Fonda) was once involved with Richard, and he has her daughter in captivity as collateral for her to do as he says. Being of the altruistic Chinese breed, he promises to help her out after he’s so far involved that he can’t get out.

Scripted by French director Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element,” “Léon”) and Robert Mark Kamen, “Kiss of the Dragon” skates on thin ice with its plot coincidences and eccentricities, but in addition to a pleasurable amount of action and face-offs, it’s an exciting flick that holds little demand on its audience. We’re supposed to be impressed that Li goes through the majority of the movie without the use of a gun and instead uses his nimble and agile mind and body. The hand-to-foot combat is all well-timed and placed throughout the movie, but when it comes down to using bydependences such as kicking a pool ball out of the pocket and jumping into the air to again kick it in order to knock one of the bad guys out, stretches it too far. And, besides the fact that this is obviously made for an American audience, why else would the French and Chinese be speaking English as their common language? One of the things that the fight set-ups and enactments reminded me of were old videogames. Whether is was cop videogames, or battle royales like “Street Fighter” or “Mortal Kombat,” where you start off fighting small-time bad guys and thugs and work your way up the levels to tougher, more skilled fighters. And as you progressed though those levels, you had to use the special powers that your chosen “figure” was capable of. So here we have Jiuan, who once escaping Richard the first time, must make his way back up the line to face his toughest enemy. Along the way he faces little henchmen, and as he continues to take more out during the way, they get bigger and tougher. (I especially recall these sentiments as he fought the big black guy in the store, the two blonde brothers at the police office, and then Richard, where Jiuan used his special skill — the “kiss of the dragon.”) The best aspect was that “Kiss of the Dragon” felt like a satisfying game; each level he advanced to proved more and more vigorous. Not to mention that a good portion of the fighting is all very videogame-like and animated, so it all fits very comfortably into the division. And the action and fight sequences are all so much livelier and intensely choreographed than the ones in “Time and Tide.”

What was probably most surprising was the amount of action that Besson and Kamen scripted. I’ve tended to enjoy most of Besson’s films that I have seen, but one thing that he cannot be accused of in “La Femme Nikita,” “Léon” or “The Fifth Element” is overdosing on action. Instead, he chooses to focus on the characters and what they’re experiencing, which create an equable balance. The increase of on-screen action may be a result of his collaboration with Kamen and also through the direction of newcomer Chris Nahon. However, there still is an obvious influence of Besson’s work in this, like the police inspector character, which is an obvious extension of Gary Oldman’s corrupt DEA officer in “Léon,” or the detracted size of the hooker/skank character, reminiscent of Anne Parillaud in “La Femme Nikita” (Fonda is completely wasted, but had starred in the Parillaud role in the American version of the movie, “Point of No Return”), or the precocious little girl as a little tribute to Natalie Portman’s Mathilda in “Léon,” etc. My biggest problem with the movie was in fact nothing that it was responsible for, but rather the wimpy sound system that the theater used when screening this.

With Laurence Ashley, Kentaro and Isabelle Duhauvelle.

Final Verdict: B+.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4640&reviewer=172
originally posted: 07/10/01 09:46:19
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User Comments

8/28/11 s. russo Li, Fonda & Karyo backed by great camera & editing makes this a very watchable actioner. 4 stars
12/23/09 kulotz great movie. jet li's d the best!!!! 4 stars
10/03/08 Frank R. THIS MOVIE IS AMAZING 5 stars
5/12/08 dipankar i like jetli good performents fighting and powerfull kikk . 5 stars
4/02/06 Peter De La Rosa Great moviegoing expirence. 5 stars
10/30/05 chris the frenchman rocks!! 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Bloody as HELL. 4 stars
9/11/05 Rever_Bear-Trap K.O.D. is O.K.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/29/04 magaafi suck this lush!!! 5 stars
3/26/04 Mars 2071 Great movie! 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern Not bad... Jet Li could be the next, Bruce Lee. 5 stars
7/03/03 Lush One of the worst films ever made. Even Luc Besson's Joan Of Arc was better than this shit. 1 stars
4/22/03 spacecowboy-00x KILL KILL KILL! 4 stars
2/26/03 Flounder This is one awesome movie 5 stars
1/21/03 Andy Bronson fight scenes are shit and jet couldn't do a side kick properly to save his life 1 stars
11/14/02 bill very entertaining, love the slags 5 stars
11/05/02 YES Probably my favorite Jet Li film, yes, even better than Fist of Legend. 4 stars
10/23/02 palaboy101 Another Jet Li movie, go watch it! 4 stars
7/23/02 plop excellent 5 stars
1/28/02 Spyguy2 This flick ROCKED! Killer fight scenes choreographed like a wild video game! 4 stars
1/06/02 Matt Utt This movie rocked the house especially the end sequence against the 2 aussies!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/19/01 Shams Huque Cool action, and Bridget Fonda's a really appealing babe. What more do you need? 4 stars
10/17/01 Jim Renwick Love the Kung Fu flicks. Fight scenes great 4 stars
10/04/01 Bruce The yers best action movie, Jet Li is the man, his fight scenes are amazing 5 stars
9/13/01 jetli fan I like Jet Li but this movie wasn't that good. Watch Fist of Legend,Twin Warriors,Meltdown 3 stars
9/03/01 martin jet li freakin sucks, jackie chan could easily kick his ass 1 stars
8/13/01 Denz it's shit 1 stars
8/11/01 Roy Smith A movie more empty headed than Tori Spelling - with a bad ending 3 stars
7/26/01 ThatGuy Great action, bad plot, worse acting. Doesn't anyone know how to shave in France? 3 stars
7/19/01 Bohb JET LI! JET LI! JET LI! JET LI! You're not Bruce Lee. 1 stars
7/19/01 Tired Boundless stupidity. It made my nose hurt. 1 stars
7/18/01 Fenris Very entertaining action movie. 5 stars
7/17/01 Zahrim Some laughs, some action, overall pretty brainless. 2 stars
7/12/01 sadegh good 5 stars
7/12/01 mr. char The action was great, the plot was ok, but not too bad 4 stars
7/12/01 rogue the action scenes were nothing i had seen before. Jet Li kicks ass;no gun needed to do it! 5 stars
7/11/01 Melissa in NYC Why can't anyone make good movies anymore? 1 stars
7/11/01 brian Great action scenes; Jet Li really is in the same league as Bruce Lee, but buy a script 4 stars
7/11/01 wrewr qewqrqrewt 5 stars
7/10/01 Bruce Li's is getting better with each film, see this flick it has some awesome fights. 5 stars
7/10/01 malcolm one of best uses of a hong kong action star in a non-hong kong film 4 stars
7/10/01 wintermute Whoever compares the "moves" of Jet Li to Jackie Chan really has no fucknig clue. 4 stars
7/10/01 Darren Shea Bad direction and editing hurt the action sequences - performances uneven. 3 stars
7/09/01 Gabe_H Overall, it was an OK film. The action was good, but the story was weak. 3 stars
7/09/01 kishuta Jet Li is great, but all the fight scenes seem to be cut short. Seemed a lot like RMD. 3 stars
7/09/01 natasha needed more Jet Li, less Bridget Fonda 4 stars
7/08/01 John Lyons Okay, but the music sucked. 4 stars
7/07/01 MaG I think it could have been better 3 stars
7/07/01 frankko unfortunately, the action is ruined by the shoddy direction. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Jul-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Oct-2001


Directed by
  Chris Nahon

Written by
  Luc Besson
  Robert Mark Kamen

Cast
  Jet Li
  Bridget Fonda
  Tchéky Karyo
  Max Ryan



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